marc jacobs' haunting lament
Christy Turlington closed the designer's incredible masterclass on volume and drama.
Photography Mitchell Sams
Marc Jacobs usually revels in the hugeness of his shows, so to wander into the inky gloom of the Park Avenue Armory and see only 180 seats was slightly surprising. What followed was an intimate, goosebump-inducing show that (literally) shone a spotlight upon Jacobs’ storied legacy, and yet somehow was one of the most forward thinking of the week.
As the strings of the American Contemporary Music ensemble swelled somewhere out there in the gloom, the first model, Ugbad Abdi, emerged in a leopard cape with a knitted beanie, followed by a series of luxurious, oversized coats. Rather than reveling in high-camp, however, it felt like Jacobs was reclaiming his reputation as New York’s king of outerwear for cool, elegant women — any of the outerwear would have looked fantastic on the streets of the city right now (or at least in the cabs of the city). Look seven, Mica Arganaraz in a knee-length skirt and blue sweater, spoke to the simplicity that Jacobs has long been master of, which can be forgotten when he’s putting on such a huge spectacle. The tiny audience craned to see the sparkly or woolen socks and boots, the feathers that adorned the Stephen Jones knitted hats, the easy, open toed heels. Not that there wasn’t high drama too, which after a week of allegedly sensible propositions for falls, was a boon. Gowns were feathered or ruffled, and came in the oversize proportions beloved by designers of the moment, but somehow even bigger. Liu Wen’s appearance in an abstract floral smock felt like the final say on the prairie dress mania, while Adut Akech shone in a searing yellow voluminous dress. Jacobs has always been master of reflecting current trends and Marc-ifying them, and this was the perfect case study of that.
There’s something wistful about Jacobs’ current work, if you couldn’t tell from the dark venue, the swooping string music, and the designers’ slight bow at the end. Christy Turlington has long been a Jacobs muse, walking in his seminal Perry Ellis show, and last night she closed the show in a black feathered gown, a reminder of his long career. And also what’s to come — just as Turlington now seemingly runs marathons every other day, Jacobs still pushes himself to the limit in pursuit of great design. What’s most startling, however, is how the younger designers this week are more in sync with Jacobs’ vast, emotional oeuvre, than with those the generation above them — intent on selling fantasy and grand ideas alongside their hoodies. Evidently Jacobs isn’t alone in his lament.